Holmes hits the front

John Holmes, who less than six months ago was helping America’s amateurs win back the Walker Cup from Britain and Ireland, continued the dream start to his professional career today.

The 23-year-old from Kentucky, already with a 10th-place finish in his rookie season on the US Tour, shared the lead after nine holes of the third round of the FBR Open in Arizona.

While he went to the turn in 32 fellow American JJ Henry, four clear at halfway following a brilliant 61, managed only a one-over 36.

Holmes, who won the tour’s qualifying school in December, birdied three of the first four holes and after a bogey on the next picked up another shot at the sixth.

Henry resumed with an eight-foot birdie putt but bogeys on the sixth and ninth meant they were both 13 under par, a stroke ahead of former Open champion Justin Leonard and another tour rookie, Colombia’s Camilo Villegas.

Leonard and Villegas were both five under for the day with six and seven holes to go respectively, while South African Rory Sabbatini made the biggest move, up from 30th to fifth and needing a closing birdie for a round of 63.

Sweden’s back-to-form Jesper Parnevik and Norway’s Henrik Bjornstad led the European challenge, standing seven under and joint 16th along with defending champion Phil Mickelson.

Londoner Brian Davis was a stroke further back, as was world number two Vijay Singh, while Justin Rose was on the same mark until he double-bogeyed the 11th.

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